Study looks at 2011 increases in employer workers compensation costs

Although many employers aim to reduce their number of workplace injuries and illnesses, they still can be subject to a workers compensation claim if an accident occurs on-site. According to a new report by the National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI), total workers compensation costs increased in 2011 across the country.

Employment growth increases the risk of workplace injuries
According to Insurance Journal, the study found both workers compensation benefits paid to those employees who were insured and their employers’ costs jumped two years ago. Costs to employers increased 7.1% to $77.1 billion in 2011, with workers compensation benefits increasing by 3.5% to $60.2 billion. NASI also noted a 4.5% boost in healthcare spending and a 2.6% increase in wage replacement.

The study found workers compensation benefits increased in all 50 states and the District of Columbia during 2011.

According to Marjorie Baldwin, chair of the workers compensation data panel for NASI and professor of economics at the W.P. Carey School at Arizona State University, a major factor in the rise in workers compensation claims may be due to higher employment numbers. With more people working, there is a greater chance of an employee becoming injured. The study reported workers compensation claims were at the lowest point in three decades between 2009 and 2011, which was the height of the recession.

Whenever there is an increase of new workers, employers may want to keep a careful eye on their workplace safety training programs to ensure all employees are receiving adequate safety education. It also may be a good idea to ask experienced workers to attend safety training as well to help answer new workers’ questions about safety and to receive additional training. With more to worry about, many employers may provide their workers with less safety education without meaning to. However, an increase in employment ranks requires companies to keep safety and workplace education at the forefront of their minds.

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